Oxford advances with win over Greencastle-Antrim

OXFORD>>It took a little longer than usual for the Oxford bats to get going, but once they did, the Hornets started putting crooked numbers up on the board. By game’s end, the Hornets (21-3) pounded out 11 hits on the way to a 6-3 win over Greencastle-Antrim, the third-place finisher from District 3, in the opening round of the PIAA Class 5A tournament.

Sydney Kargulewicz and Emily Basilio celebrate during the Hornets win Oxford’s Emily Basilio slides into home with the game’s first run (BILL RUDICK for MediaNews Group)

With the win, Oxford advances to Thursday’s quarterfinal round, where they will face District 1 champ Abington Heights, who move on following a first round forfeit from Franklin Towne Charter, the District 12 runner-up.

“We scouted them a few times, most recently in their third place game at Solanco,” said Oxford coach Josh Socash. “We knew the kind of pitcher we’d face. The challenge was to not try to drive the ball and pop it up, but to go for line-drives and hard ground balls. Most of our batting practices ended with us just going through the order and trying to string together hits.”

With the score tied 1-1 in the middle of the fifth, the hit parade finally came. Natalia Donofrio (2 for 3, 2B, 2R) got things going, beating out a lead-off bunt. Then, with two outs, McKenna Frank, Molly Friel and Cece Figueroa all singled to give the Hornets a 4-1 lead.

Cece Figueroa connects for a base hit (BILL RUDICK for MediaNews Group)

“I haven’t really been hitting all that well this season,” said Donofrio. “So I’m really happy that it’s starting to come for me in the post season. With the way we’re hitting and playing defense, we’re really confident moving forward.”

Natalia Donofrio connects for a base hit (BILL RUDICK for MediaNews Group)

The Hornets tacked on another pair of runs in the bottom half of the sixth on a single from Sydney Kargulewicz, a double from Donofrio, and a perfectly executed sacrifice squeeze bunt from Emily Basilio (2 for 3, R, RBI).

“We usually start hitting much earlier in the game than we did today,” said Figueroa. “This was some of the best defense we’ve played all year. I’m totally confident that the girls behind me are going to make the plays we need. And we really needed it while waiting for the hitting to get going and give us a little cushion.”

Oxford’s McKenna Frank puts the tag on Caroline Logsdon for the out on a stolen base attempt (BILL RUDICK for MediaNews Group)

Donofrio and her fellow outfielders—Kargulewicz and Basilio—ran down just about everything that came near them, while the infield matched the effort.

“Our defense was absolutely phenomenal today,” said Socash. “So many great diving plays, grabbing balls off other gloves, throws from the knees, whatever they needed to do, they did it. It was incredible. Got us out of a few jams.”

Cece Figueroa delivers a pitch (BILL RUDICK for MediaNews Group)

Figueroa earned the win in the circle, allowing three runs on six hits. She struck out three and walked three.

“I haven’t walked a lot of hitters this year,” said Figueroa. “So having the defense come up with so many big plays after I walked a few today was huge.”

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